Whether you have just picked up a new slightly older pet or have had them for years but never had pet health insurance, it is never too late to start a new policy. From allergies to major surgery, a good insurance policy means you can make the most of modern veterinary care without the barrier of cost.
What are the main policy types?
Only covers injury and not illness; these policies often have cheaper premiums and at least do cover injury but bear in mind your pet is more likely to get sick than in an accident.
Provides cover for a 12 month period from the onset of the condition. Again, these policies are slightly cheaper and can provide cover for short term illnesses but will not cover your pet for chronic illnesses which could last a lifetime.
Each condition will be covered up to a certain amount with no time limit as long as the policy is active. These policies are typically cheaper than a lifetime policy and can provide good cover if they have a large allowance per condition. However, these policies are not good for chronic, lifetime conditions which may exceed the maximum benefit.
Covers your pet throughout their life as long as the policy is renewed each year. Typically these policies off a high amount per condition which renews each year and a good policy will cover the cost of major trauma, chronic illnesses and referrals. These will have higher premiums.
Is insurance cover immediate?
When you first start a new policy there is a ‘deferment period’ of typically 10-14 days. During this period your pet may not be covered against illness, be sure to check this when you take out the policy.
Which policy should I choose?
Ultimately this is your choice. Choose a good policy from the start and take note of your renewal date each year so that it isn’t allowed to lapse. This is especially important if your pet has ongoing health conditions covered by lifetime insurance, it may be difficult to find cover once the policy has lapsed.
What is covered?
Preventative treatments, vaccinations and neutering will not be covered. Some policies require you to vaccinate your pets each year and dental care may only be covered if your pet’s teeth are checked at certain intervals.
Anything related to breeding or pregnancy will not be covered by most insurers but is an additional extra that certain companies do offer cover for. If you are thinking of breeding, look around for a suitable policy.
What about exclusions?
If your pet has pre-existing conditions, insurers may choose to exclude these from the cover or may not offer cover at all. Pre-existing conditions does not just mean conditions that have been treated by a vet. A chronic condition like arthritis appearing a day after a policy is in effect is unlikely to be covered as it is an illness that does not develop overnight. There are companies which do offer cover for pre-existing conditions if your pet hasn’t shown any symptoms or had treatment for a certain amount of time.
What if I decide not to insure?
If you decide you would rather not have pet health insurance, consider saving money each year towards the cost of future treatment costs. Bear in mind that chronic conditions like heart disease could cost up to £3000 a year and a ruptured cruciate ligament repair surgery can be upwards of £2500.